The State Seal of Massachusetts has been linked to the Confederate Flag publicly--finally. It only takes a look at the image to understand:
Now, in the age of questions over police behavior towards people of color, specifically people who are not perceived as white/caucasian, and incarceration of non-caucasisions at rates far in excess of caucasian people due to laws written in less than equitable terms the seal of the Massaschusetts State Police is chilling:
The question the images raise is simple: What is the arm with the sword held in a ready to strike pose over the entire body of the Native American representing? Additionally it can be legitimately asked: What does the downward pointing arrow disengaged from the bow held by the Native American represent? We often say that a picture is worth a thousand words. I add that these images, presented throughout the State of Masachusetts, in offices and courts, viewed daily by thousands, and online, able to be viewed by millions if not billions should they chose to do so, perpetuates racism both consciously and unconsciously. It is wrong and it needs to be changed.
Personally I am happy to see the discussion opened. When I first came to Massachusetts years ago the image troubled me. As I have learned more over time, as our society's understanding of the imact of imagery on society, communities and individuals has grown, including through research involving actual brain scan studies I have found the silence of individuals and society around this issue absolutely unacceptable. Where are our leaders and why are they silent? The politicians, major sports league commissioners, players and their formal organizations, team owners--of all major sports teams, male and female and in all sports-- corporate leaders, media of all kinds and at all levels, from corporate to individual cerlebrity, and finally but perhaps most importantly our spiritual and religious leaders rarely even identify this issue. Why? They cannot claim they are unaware of the topic. I personally have reached out to many, as I have sometimes detailed in this site. The demonstrations around the Washington D.C. NFL team identity and the Cleveland MLB team identity receive national media attention. The NBA removed a team from an owner over his personal racism, a drama which played out worldwide, for months. Yet the racism persists, the silence both endures and endorses. It is time to open the discussion, being making the needed changes--today.
With a small population of approximately 3 million pure ancestry Native Americans and Native Americans with ancestry mixing other races of approximately 5 million and with all but overwhelming issues facing them, from resource management to education to health care to employment this is not an issue only for Native American to address. The racism in sports teams' identities is an issue for all Americans. What are we teaching our children? What are we shwoing to the world through this silence, through our symbolic and team identity racism? Our personal integrity is called into question by our willful silence. Our national integrity is challenged by tribal and indigenous peoples worldwide--legitimately.
The history of the United States of America is inextricably intertwined with the historic and current realitites of all Native Americans. Silence is not acceptable. Silence condones. Do not be silent.